Candida overgrowth can be a significant barrier to weight loss. Candida is a naturally occurring yeast in the intestinal tract, and is vital for healthy digestion. However, when Candida overgrowth occurs, it can create problems, both with digestive function (gas, bloating etc) and more systemically with fatigue, headaches, brain fog and so on.
In looking at the association between Candida and weight gain, the first thing we need to examine is the fuel source for yeast (and subsequently Candida). Yeast feeds off sugar – that is its preferred fuel source. Subsequently an individual with a hefty yeast overgrowth is going to crave sugars and carbs, as that is what the yeast is craving.
Part of the dilemma is that the sugar/ carb phenomenon is a catch-22. Yeast feeds off sugar, so a diet high in sugars and carbs will perpetuate Candida overgrowth; and yet Candida overgrowth will set of cravings for more sugars and carbs. See how this might be a hard cycle to break?
Furthermore, yeast will crave not only sugar, but more yeast. What is alcohol? Sugar and yeast. And a bunch of empty calories. I know many individuals who crave wine or beer – not because they have a drinking problem – but because they have a yeast overgrowth and they’re predisposed to that because of it. High yeast foods can be a trigger also – vinegars, mushrooms, breads to name just a few.
Anti-fungal treatment can often help curb cravings for sugars, carbs and alcohol, and these are three things that will be very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Also, treating yeast overgrowth can help reduce intestinal bloating which makes one more feel more rotund, even if it’s not true body fat. Addressing yeast overgrowth will also boost energy levels making exercise a more viable and appealing proposition.
Candida overgrowth also compromises proper absorption of nutrients. It is associated with “leaky gut”, which means the gap between the intestinal cells widens. This then leads to nutrients not being well absorbed, as well as larger-than-normal food molecules escaping into the blood stream triggering immune reactions and inflammation.
Addressing Candida overgrowth can be done through diet, although even the most rigid anti-Candida diets are rarely enough to eradicate the problem. The more balanced option is moderate dietary modifications, coupled with anti-fungal remedies, which can range from herbal medicines all the way through to strong prescription medicines. Many people find that once yeast overgrowth is addressed, cravings for sugars and carbs are reduced and weight loss is much easier.